The Ryan Report – Episode 204 "Fool Me Once" Ryan's Bio
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So, I think it's been established that I'm a bit of a bookworm. Okay, by bookworm, I mean that I'm a borderline-obsessive consumer of all forms of information. Or as Espo terms it, I'm a frickin' nutso (and he uses less polite words).
But I figure a little bit of information on everything (and anything) is good -- you never know when it might come in handy. Plus, it makes me the sparkling conversationalist that I am. Unlike Esposito, I can discuss things other than those that start with "New York" and end in a sports team.
In particular, I like to research our crime-committing quarry. I'm not talking about merely scanning the hotsheets on recent arrests and new techniques. I mean, I actually head out to the library and dig into the books to get some historical perspective.
In particular, I've developed a bit of fondness for stories of con men... or, as they used to be known, "bunco artists" (from "buncombe," a slang word meaning phony talk.) Yes, there are the movies -- The Sting, Catch Me If You Can, Dirty Rotten Scoundels -- but I love learning about the real stories. Seeing how these guys got by on a daily basis, when they were scamming everyone in sight. Makes most of the perps we catch sound like amateurs.
Take Victor Lustig, the man who "sold" people the Eiffel Tower. This wasn't just some guy selling an 'iPod' box filled with rocks, this man had vision. Criminal vision, but still. How about Soapy Smith, a man who built a criminal empire off a con where he pretended to wrap hundred dollar bills around soap bars? Or what about Clifford Irving -- he faked an 'autobiography' from Howard Hughes and conned the entire publishing industry into believing him. Castle's got to be a fan of that...
I mean, there's just something intriguing about con artists.Maybe it's that in a day and age as skeptical as our own, people can still be taken in by them. It's probably our need to believe in something and someone -- all the technology in the world isn't going to replace that.
I've had my own personal experiences with lo-fi con artists -- Bobby S. back in Junior High trying to convince me that baseball cards lose value the OLDER they are (I hung onto my Don Mattingly rookie card, thanksverymuch) or Chris A. trying to convince me that letting him borrow my car all weekend would actually be in my own best interest. But I'm pretty savvy about these guys, probably because I've learned how to do my own cons here and there.
See, Esposito has a little habit of letting me know how I need to "pay my dues." The man joined the squad a short while before I did, but you'd think he was a decades older veteran by the way he acts. Apparently these "dues" consist of buying him coffee, clearing out the trunk of our car, and lending him a dollar for the vending machines. Clearly, very important duties.
So I figured a little turnabout was fair play.This week, we were asked to carry some boxes back to the precinct. I sheepishly admitted to Esposito that I'd hurt my back this weekend helping my girlfriend's grandmother move. Oh, not too badly... just enough to cause terrible, shooting pains whenever I lift something. I did "try" to lift a box, but my cries of pain were enough for Esposito to rush over and take it out of my hands. That was the last box I carried all day...
Only problem is now he's started to mother me. Always making sure we take the elevator and clipping articles about slipped discs and lumbar vertebrae. He's even tried to send me out to his second cousin in Queens who's a "healer." Not a doctor or chiropractor, just someone with "hands of amazing healing." I'd go, but I'm worried this "healer" is probably a better con artist than I am. She'd see right through my amateur-hour pains.
Instead, I think I'll tell Espo about this former pot dealer-turned-acupuncturist from the Bronx I busted back in my Narco days. This imaginary fellow's going to be able cure my aching back, I just have to invent a good enough name for him. Alfredo the Acupuncturist? Nick the Needler?Pablo the Pinner? The perfect name is so important -- just ask Soapy Smith.
That's the tricky thing about pulling a con, thinking up all the intricate details the story requires. And then you have to remember to remember it.